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Dual-Pivot Quicksort and Beyond: Analysis of Multiway Partitioning and Its Practical Potential
(2016)

Multiway Quicksort, i.e., partitioning the input in one step around several pivots, has received much attention since Java 7’s runtime library uses a new dual-pivot method that outperforms by far the old Quicksort implementation. The success of dual-pivot Quicksort is most likely due to more efficient usage of the memory hierarchy, which gives reason to believe that further improvements are possible with multiway Quicksort.
In this dissertation, I conduct a mathematical average-case analysis of multiway Quicksort including the important optimization to choose pivots from a sample of the input. I propose a parametric template algorithm that covers all practically relevant partitioning methods as special cases, and analyze this method in full generality. This allows me to analytically investigate in depth what effect the parameters of the generic Quicksort have on its performance. To model the memory-hierarchy costs, I also analyze the expected number of scanned elements, a measure for the amount of data transferred from memory that is known to also approximate the number of cache misses very well. The analysis unifies previous analyses of particular Quicksort variants under particular cost measures in one generic framework.
A main result is that multiway partitioning can reduce the number of scanned elements significantly, while it does not save many key comparisons; this explains why the earlier studies of multiway Quicksort did not find it promising. A highlight of this dissertation is the extension of the analysis to inputs with equal keys. I give the first analysis of Quicksort with pivot sampling and multiway partitioning on an input model with equal keys.